Williamson ‘very proud’ to lead England and reflects on dramatic spot-kick retake for Lionesses’ Under-19s
LEAH WILLIAMSON says the Lionesses’ trip to Belfast brought back memories of an England penalty she retook five days after netting following an officiating error.
And the Arsenal ace admits captaining the national side is the ‘biggest honour in football’.
The Gunners centre-back was speaking to reporters before England’s World Cup qualifier clash with Northern Ireland in Belfast.
And the Tuesday evening fixture prompted Williamson, 25, to reflect on a spot-tick moment which occurred in the city during an England Under-19s match seven years ago.
In April 2015 the young Lionesses saw Williamson’s converted pen in a Euros qualifier cancelled out due to players encroaching in the 18-yard box.
But official Marija Kurtes gave Norway a free-kick during the game at Seaview when the penalty should have been retaken.
It resulted in an intervention from Uefa which led to the pen being retaken a week later.
And Williamson netted the crucial goal that sent her side through to the Women’s Under-19s Euros in Israel.
In her light-hearted take on the moment, Williamson said: “It turned out well in the end but what I went through that week I wouldn’t wish on anybody.
“I remember I told my mum I would keep it quiet in case I missed, and nobody would ever know.
“And then you lot turned up with your Sky Sports cameras.
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“There’s a couple of the girls here that were in that squad and we were reminiscing about it the other day.
“It’s good memories because it turned out well but it could have gone very differently.”
The Lionesses’ Group D World Cup qualifier duel with Northern Ireland will see them face Kenny Shiels’ aces in front of a sell-out crowd at Windsor Park
However, the team will be without the services of veteran Jill Scott who is unavailable for the game.
A crowd of more than 16,000 are expected to attend with Williamson set to lead England for the first time since news of her captaincy of the side at the Euros was announced.
The Arsenal ace, who has 27 senior international caps received congratulatory messages from her club colleagues.
And the Buckinghamshire-born WSL star says her immediate family were the first people she broke the news to
Williamson added: “I went straight to my mum, dad and brother and they’re very proud.
“It was a nice conversation and there were some tears within the family and then it was about getting back to work and focusing on the next job which is winning on Tuesday.
“It’s a very proud moment and the biggest honour of football and I appreciate that.”
Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman is relishing the prospect of seeing her side test themselves against Northern Ireland in front of a partisan crowd.
Wiegman, 52, said: “We have a job to do. We want to be a mature team and play our style of play.
“Hopefully the crowd will make lots of noise so it’s a little harder for us to talk to each other, so we have to communicate in passing and body language a little more to execute the actions we want.”
Northern Ireland vs England will be broadcast live on BBC Two from 7:30pm on Tuesday 12 April. The game kicks-off at 7:55pm
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